Could The Great British Bake Off air next year after all? BBC 'unlikely' to hold series eight back

Beeb reportedly decides not to use cooling-off period against Channel 4

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Channel 4 may be able to air a full series of The Great British Bake Off next year after all, as the BBC is reportedly unlikely to enforce its cooling-off clause on the show.

This evening the news we were all dreading became a reality, with the BBC confirming it had lost the hit baking contest - only for Channel 4 to announce it had acquired the rights.

As part of its deal with makers Love Productions, the Beeb is thought to have the power to block a rival broadcaster from relaunching the original version of the show until 2018.

Accordingly, C4 said its first series - slated to air in 2017 - would be a celebrity spin-off in aid of Stand Up To Cancer.

However, The Telegraph's media correspondent Patrick Foster suggests the BBC is now unlikely to enact its 'cooling-off' clause - as it does not want to face a backlash for keeping the most watched show on TV off air.

This would pave the way for the eighth main series to air next year, although it's unclear whether C4 would change its plans.

Foster wrote on his Twitter page: "I understand it's unlikely BBC will enforce its 1yr holdback clause - which would stop the main show airing next year.

"Public clamour for #GBBO & potential accusation that BBC keeping it off air in fit of pique means holdback clause not likely to be enforced."

Foster also revealed that Love agreed its deal with C4 just moments after parting ways with the BBC, tweeting: "BBC showdown with Love Productions ended just after 4pm. Love lot were straight in taxi to C4."

The big question is whether popular hosts Mel & Sue and judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood will follow Bake Off to its new home.

It has been suggested that all four wanted the show to remain on BBC One, and while they were not involved in negotiations over its future, previous reports claimed they'd be prepared to quit if it moved channels.

Tonight Mary refused to comment when approached by ITV News, while Sue retweeted the BBC's statement urging Love to reconsider.

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